President Bush went easy on the word “victory” on Wednesday. In his entire 2,916 word speech outlining a new Iraq strategy, he used it only twice, and in the same paragraph.
“Victory will not look like the ones our fathers and grandfathers achieved,” the president warned.
“There will be no surrender ceremony on the deck of a battleship. But victory in Iraq will bring something new in the Arab world -- a functioning democracy that polices its territory, upholds the rule of law, respects fundamental human liberties, and answers to its people.”
Precious few are the American politicians who dare use the word at all. Even John McCain, who appears to have staked his 2008 presidential hopes on the troop “surge” the president announced, is gently trying to put some distance between his political fortunes and those of the president.
Speaking on FoxNews shortly after Wednesday night’s speech, McCain said he supported the troop surge, noting that it was “not really just an increase in troops, it is a change in strategy.”
Then he hastened to add: “I can’t guarantee that it will succeed...but if we fail, we will have greater problems throughout the region.”
I am sure the readers of the page will correct me, but so far the only U.S. politician I have found besides the president who has talked about victory in Iraq is Joe Lieberman, still the junior senator from Connecticut, but now free of the Democratic Party label.
“There are two ways we can end the war in Iraq,” he said a few days before the president’s speech. “Defeat, or victory.”
Bush was right when he framed his new strategy – which ressembles the seize and hold strategy of classic counter-insurgency warfare – in the larger context of the global war against terror. He used varying terms to define the enemy: “radical Islamic extremists,” was the most clear, but more often this became, simply, “extremists.”
Similarly, he watered down his warnings to Iran, even though they were widely remarked by commentators on the Left, who found yet more evidence that the Bush White House plans an “unprovoked” war on Iran.
I was disappointed that the president did not insist that the Director of National Intelligence (or whoever is in charge of intelligence coming out of Iraq these days) declassify the critical information that was leaked to reporters shortly after the capture of two senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers in Baghdad over Christmas.
One of them, identified as General Chizari, was said to be third in command of the Qods Force, the Revolutionary Guards strike arm used to plan and carry out overseas terrorist attacks.
Michael Ledeen called the documents seized from Chizari as a “wiring diagram” of Iran’s terrorist networks inside Iraq.
Eli Lake of the New York Sun revealed on January 3 that the documents confirmed "that Iran is working closely with both the Shi'ite militias and Sunni jihadist groups.”
Please pause for a second and reread that last sentence. It is absolutely critical to understanding the magnitude of the threat America is facing, and the manifest incapacity of our intelligence establishment to grapple with that threat (let alone defeat the terrorists and their masters).
Since 1979, when Islamic terrorism took off as a religious phenomenon, U.S. intelligence analysts have used exquisite (Western) logic to differentiate between Shi'ite Muslim terrorist groups, backed by Iran, and Sunni Muslim terrorist groups, backed initially (during the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan) by Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the United States.
But all that began to change in the early 1990s, when Iran took a fresh look at the success of Osama Bin Laden’s jihadis against the Soviets. The Iranians concluded bin Laden increasing estrangement from his Saudi backers presented an opportunity they could exploit. They were right.
In 1993, Iran dispatched its top overseas terrorist, Imad Mugniyeh, to meet with bin Laden in Khartoum. We know about this meeting because the man who organized now sits in a U.S. prison, after copping a plea with prosecutors for his involvement in the 1998 Africa embassy bombings and other al-Qaeda operations against the United States.
Ali Mohammed not only arranged that 1993 meeting between bin Laden and Mugniyeh; he continued to broker Iranian assistance to al-Qaeda, all the while he duped the FBI and got paid as a confidential informant.
I wrote about Ali Mohammed and the Khartoum meeting in Countdown to Crisis: the Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran. I felt it was essential to show how Iran’s Shi'ite fundamentalist leaders came to the conclusion that supporting the Sunni fundamentalist al-Qaeda movement served their strategic interests, and how they acted on those interests.
The CIA has consistently attempted to debunk any notion of Shi'ite-Sunni terror collaboration. From Paul Pillar, the top CIA analyst on Middle East terror until he retired in 2004 (thank-you, Porter Goss!) to Stephen Kappes, the current deputy director of CIA, the Agency establishment has pushed the story that an iron wall exists between Shia and Sunni terrorists.
The documents seized in Baghdad provide yet more proof that such a wall does not exist. The Iranians tore it down in 1993, and have never regretted it.
Even the 9/11 Commission reluctantly came to that conclusion on page 241 of its final report, which described the material assistance Iran gave to “eight to ten of the muscle hijackers” who carried out the September 11 attacks. (There is much more to that story that I learned from sources, which I described in my book).
The Left has tried to argue that the upsurge in violence in Iraq came as a result of Israel’s “war against Lebanon” this summer – yet another myth that inserts Israel as the nefarious evil doer into events to which it was completely foreign.
Anyone who has followed the war in Iraq knows that sectarian war erupted on February 22, when terrorists attacked and severely damaged the Golden Mosque in Samarra, one of the holiest shrines in Shi'ism.
Everyone just assumed that the attackers were Sunni insurgents, probably al-Qaeda or backed by a-Qaeda.
I noted in this space last month that we shouldn’t be so quick to judge. From what I was hearing from my Iranian sources, the attack had the fingerprints of the Iranians all over it.
Would Shi'ite Iran encourage the destruction of a Shi'ite shrine in Iraq to incite Iraqi Shi'ites to battle Iraqi Sunnis? You bet.
Remember the August 1978 arson against the Ahwaz cinema in Iran, when hundreds of Iranian moviegoers perished in flames. At the time, Iran’s “revolutionaries,” led by Ayatollah Khomeini, blamed the Shah for mercilessly killing his countrymen. Only two decades later did the revolutionaries themselves admit to what many had suspected for years: that they themselves had planned and carried out the arson attack, in order to ignite the match of revolution.
Just hours after the president’s speech on Wednesday night, U.S. forces in Iraq seized six Iranians from a safe house in Irbil, in northern Iraq. U.S. commanders said they had convincing evidence that the men were involved in preparing terrorist attacks.
In Tehran, the regime “summoned” the ambassadors of Iraq and Switzerland (which has represented the United States since Iran’s revolutionaries broke diplomatic relations during the hostage crisis), to demand the return of the men. The Iranians claimed they were just five, not six, and that they had been seized from an Iranian “consulate.”
It was the type of “consulate” where “diplomats,” who normally wore shoulderboards when at home, dispensed orders, money, and munitions to terrorist recruits. It was a trick the Iranians have perfected for years. (Photographs of Rev. Guards training in Iran then appearing as “humanitarian aid workers” in Iraq in 2003 can be seen here.)
President Bush in his speech gave a restrained presentation of Iran’s deadly meddling in Iraq. U.S. commanders on the ground have demonstrated that they are now willing to take off the gloves, and execute the president’s orders to “disrupt the attacks on our forces” and “interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria.”
Democratic Senator Dick Durban indulged in Jesse Jackson jive in his immediate reaction to the Bush speech, saying the U.S. needed, not a surge in troops, but a “surge in diplomacy.”
Over the past week, the U.S. Navy has given orders to the U.S.S. John Stennis carrier battle group, based in Bremerton, WA, to steam toward the Persian Gulf, where it will join the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Navy sources say the Pentagon is getting ready to announce the dispatch of a third carrier battle group – the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan – from San Diego. That will make three carrier battle groups in the region starting at around the end of January.
Oh, and along with them is the amphibious assault group led by the U.S.S. Boxer, which can land several thousand U.S. Marines to seize and destroy strategic sites near the coast at a moment’s notice. (Busheir? Bandar Abbas? Jask? The three Persian Gulf islands Iran seized from the UAE in the 1990s and has since fortified to harass Gulf shipping? Your pick).
Victory in Iraq cannot come until the United States makes it clear to Iran – even more than Syria, since the Syrians will take their lead from Tehran – that we will no longer tolerate their intervention in Iraqi affairs.
The president has now said this. And the U.S. military is beginning to back it up.
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